Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program



Shapiro, Joe


The way in which the resolution of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper” seems both enabling and disabling when it comes to the possibility of resistance to structures of power has been the subject of much criticism. Challenging Walter Benn Michael’s claim that “The Yellow Wall-paper” critiques only women’s exclusion from capitalist labor and not capitalist labor itself, I argue that while the narrator’s freedom/unfreedom at the end of the story attests to her own attachment to these structures, the story itself does not. Further I argue that Gilman, in fact, is working through her own cultural critique similar to Lauren Berlant’s theory of cruel optimism.